I Hated My Braces

When I entered secondary school, age fourteen, I joined the school orchestra and begin learning clarinet.

In the second year, two of the other clarinetists, boys, came to practice with strange silver tracks in their mouths, and could not blow properly. They had to leave the orchestra, and as they were in a different grade, I never saw them again, so I had no chance to figure out what they were wearing in their mouths.                                                                                                                                     The conductor was very upset and kept saying “orthodontics are the ruination of good musicians”. A few weeks later a girl who was a flutist, came sobbing and trying to talk in an unrecognizable garble.  Her teeth were totally covered with silver bands wrapped around every tooth and joined with heavy wire. Her teeth looked like the tracks from model train sets.                                        The director consoled her as best he could, muttering all the time “orthodontics!!”

A few weeks later, I had a regular appointment with my dentist, but this time my mother came also. She had a private consultation with him first.                                                                             He did X-rays, and a through examination, and had me bite in to some kind of sticky paste in a mouth-shaped tray. Then he called my mother in and spent a lot of time talking over my head to her. What I heard was that my top jaw was a lot larger than the bottom.  My top teeth were equally large, and although straight had very large gaps in all of them. My bottom jaw was smaller, and the teeth were also smaller but with no gaps. However, it appeared as if my lower jaw was inside the upper. Apparently I had a “malocclusion” of some kind also. As I listened, I heard him tell my mother he could fix the “diastemas” gaps in my upper teeth by banding each tooth and wiring each one, so as the wires are tightened the teeth will move together and fill the gaps. He said that he would need to band the lower teeth also and talked about expanding and it and correcting the position.                                                                                                                                                 By this time I was feeling very sick and began saying “NO! NO!”.  The thought of all that silver banding wrapped around every tooth and joined with heavy wire, and pulling my teeth into new positions was more than I could bear to think about.                                                                             I jumped up and ran out into the waiting room, sobbing. Mother said something to the dentist about another day, and came out too.                                                                                                     I sobbed and cried all the way home. All I could think about was that I would not be able to play the clarinet, if this horrible thing was done to my teeth.

Over the next week, I alternated crying, with arguments, and total refusal. I even threatened to refuse to open my mouth if that horrid dentist who was also an orthodontist was anywhere near me. It was no use. Mother dragged me back kicking and screaming.

Mother wanted me to have a perfect smile and perfectly aligned teeth.

She had another private consultation with the dentist/ orthodontist.                                                He asked me to sit in the chair so he could have another look and decide if treatment was going to be necessary. So I sat obligingly hoping that this was really a mistake.                                               I smelled something antiseptic as he reached behind me, and pulled out a piece of equipment that looked like a rubber mask, and put it over my face.

When I woke up, it was to the horror off finding my mouth full of metal bands on every tooth, and thick wires which had been tightened unbearably.  I was too shocked to cry. We went home with me in a daze.

I could not stop drooling.  My top lip felt as if it was being pushed too far forward by the metal bands and wires, while my bottom lip was being sliced by the metal. My tongue was lacerated from the wires. When I finally got up enough courage to look in the mirror, all I could see were little bits of tooth and all the rest of my teeth had turned to metal.

That night I discovered I could not eat or drink anything without slobbering and choking, so I had liquids with a straw. I managed to swallow a pain killer, and went to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I realized in horror that this had not been a nightmare, but had actually happened.                                                                                                                                My top teeth felt as if they were being pulled from their sockets, and the bottom ones ached.

Mother insisted on seeing the orthodontists work and was very pleased in fact joyful at all the silver showing. Then she said; “Now you will have a perfect smile.”

The next day was Sunday and I thought she would let me stay home from church, but no way. I had to go, and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible.                                                                      Mother could not resist proudly showing off all that expensive orthodontic work to her friends and other parents.  I was so embarrassed.

On Monday, I had to go to school, and had a note to give to the orchestra director excusing me from further participation.  I handed it to him without opening my mouth, and left quickly.

I was so embarrassed by my metal mouth that I did not talk to anyone. I had tried talking at home and all I could manage was a garble, with lots of drooling because my lips did not fit properly over my teeth.

Two weeks later, mother surprised me by saying we had to go back to the orthodontist. I thought we had finished with that, but I was in for a very nasty surprise.                                                    This time, there was a tray with things on it covered up with a cloth.                                              The gas mask was hissing.                                                                                                                    He asked me if I was going to be compliant this time or did he need to put me to sleep again? I said yes to being compliant.

By the time he finished with the next procedures, I was wishing I had been asleep.  He had me open wide and put some rubber blocks between my teeth to hold my mouth open. He also put something in to spread my lips.                                                                                                         Then he began to install something metal between my teeth in the lower jaw which he told my mother was a palate expander.                                                                                                          The orthodontist had other parts on the tray to put in my mouth.                                                     He had two hinge-like pieces. He started to work by putting the first one of these in the back of my mouth. They fit perfectly in a slot on the back of my molars. So, he positioned the right side and wired it down and then worked on the left side wiring down that side as well. When he had finished I found it nearly impossible to open my mouth all the way. The hinges locked at a certain distance and I could not open my mouth any further. The hinges not only controlled the extent to which I could open my mouth but also did not allow any side to side movement.                                                                                                                                                   The orthodontist showed my mother how my jaws had been realigned to move the lower jaw forward and hold the upper jaw back.

Then the orthodontist took another piece from the tray which had prongs on it. This was fitted into my upper jaw just behind my front teeth.  He told my mother that these prongs would keep me from pushing on my top teeth and would help reposition my tongue.

He said:  “well there now we are finished for today.” And then he took the lip spreader and the rubber blocks out.                                                                                                                                     I could not close my mouth the way I used to because of the hinges. My lower jaw was now positioned further forward. My lips still did not close properly over all the bands and wires.                I could feel something large and metal in my lower palate.                                                           When I tried to feel my front teeth on the top I was prevented by the sharp prongs sticking down.

As I left sobbing again, I heard the orthodontist telling my mother to bring me back in a month so he could activate the expander and tighten the arch wires.

Having the hinged appliance in my mouth felt very strange. It was no longer possible to move my jaws from side to side.  My lower jaw had been pushed forward, and my back teeth no longer touched. This appliance scraped against the sides of my mouth, making them raw.

With the palate expander installed in my bottom jaw, it hurt even worse. I could never have imagined what it felt like to have a bunch of metal under my tongue.

A disgusting thing is that this metal in my mouth over-stimulated the salivary glands. I found out rather quickly that unless I kept my mouth as tightly closed as I could the saliva literally flew out.   I was appalled as this drooling had really worsened from my lips no longer fitting over the braces, but now with my jaw being repositioned and the tongue crib like prongs in my top palate, and the lower jaw expander.

I was shocked when I tried to talk. I sounded as if I had a speech impediment. I had a lisp, and my speech was garbled. Sometimes it was hard to hear what I was saying at all. It was actually so bad that I was really embarrassed. Most of the time, I was aware that other children and also adults were having a hard time understanding me.

Mother’s friends after the first look at all this new orthodontic equipment, quickly got appalled by all the drooling I did.

When the orthodontist put the arch wires on they were very stiff wire. He had to bend them each appointment to move the teeth, so every time I went to his office I knew I was going to have lots of pain.

When I needed new arch wires I was in the chair for at least an hour as he unwired the old one and rewired the new one. It was a very time consuming process, once every month for years to come.

He also activated the expander with a key every month and this would continue until my jaw had reached the maximum growth and width.

The hinges were meant to stay in place for a long time also as they would guarantee the repositioning of the lower jaw.

The upper prongs would stay also as there was no assurance that I would not revert to thrusting on my front teeth with my tongue.

Mother made sure that I had lots of soups, stews, jello, puddings, creamy porridge and ice cream to eat.  Eating was very difficult as even liquids were hard to swallow, and trying to get food into my mouth even with a spoon was very tricky.

She also brushed my teeth and all the appliances very carefully every time I ate.

If I complained at all she was quick to tell me that all this dental work was necessary for me to have a perfect smile.

Finally the day came for me to have all the wires, appliances, and bands removed. I had looked forward to this day with great anticipation for a long time.

The orthodontist had several strange looking pliers-like tools on the tray this time. He cut the wires and pulled them out, then used another tool to free the appliances. Lastly, he had other pliers which were specially made to grasp each band and remove them.

His assistant came in and rinsed my mouth and then she used a special machine to clean and polish my teeth. X-rays were also taken, as well as several pictures of the finished product. I also got to make new impressions in that sticky substance in the mouth-shaped trays.                                         I got to look at my new smile in a mirror. Mother was called in and she voiced her approval.

The orthodontist had another surprise for me that day. To make sure my new and perfect smile was not ruined I was going to be fitted with retainers.                                                                              He and mother began another discussion about me being non-complaint. However he had taken that into account already, and showed mother some other orthodontic equipment on his tray.       So instead of getting removable retainers mine were to be fixed.

I sat in the waiting room for awhile why the orthodontist heated, bent and shaped the wires for the retainers.  When he called me back in, I went reluctantly.                                                                     I had to open my mouth again and he used the rubber blocks to open my jaws. The first one he worked on was the bottom and he carefully put the shaped wire on the back of my bottom teeth. He was meticulous at making sure the wire was fitted to all my teeth and then put cement on each tooth to hold the wire in place.                                                                                                         Then he moved to the top, which was more difficult to see. For the top jaw, he put the wire behind the front six teeth and carefully cemented it to each tooth. Then he added a pronged tongue crib again. This was to prevent me thrusting my tongue forward against the front teeth.

When he was finished, I found I still had a lisp and was still drooling although not as bad as before.

Mother was very pleased with the results. She really liked the permanent fixed retainer so my perfect smile could never be ruined.

oldtimer49 oldtimer49
56-60, F
7 Responses Feb 19, 2010

So after all is said and done. Do you regret getting braces? Would you have not chosen, given the choice to have them? Was it worth it?

Spoiled brag. Some people aren't so fortunate as to have braces. They must have embarrassment until their horrendous teeth are fixed. Wow.

Do you stil have the fixed retainer in now?

I am concerned. Is there no way for someone to play the clarinet with an expander in their mouth? Can that be worked around at all?

ihave braces they are red and green for christmas

I am not exaggerating!<br />
The time was in the 1960's when orthodontic work was very primitive and not at all like today.<br />
Every one has different jaw and teeth problems and correction techniques are different.<br />
I had appliance wired in, did you?<br />
I had large gaps being clsed in my top teeth, did you?<br />
As a clarinetist you know that being able to tongue the reed properly requires the tongue bein able to move forward and upward in the oral cavity, this was not possible in my case.<br />
My tongue was prevented from touching the roof of my mouth and from thrusting forward against my front teeth.<br />
I also had a hinged appliance in my mouth realigning my jaw, did you?<br />
I also had an expander in the lower jaw, did you?<br />
I am glad that you could talk fine, but add all those extra appliances and you would have drooled and lisped too.

I think you're exaggerating a bit. When I first got my braces, I could still play clarinet and I could speak fine. Sure it was painful, but the pain went away quick for me.